Are your eyes OK? Did you get through the eclipse alright!

We hope that you got to view the solar eclipse last week, without causing any damage to your vision.  We also hope you don’t get hauled into court over the eclipse, like the School Board of Orange County, Florida did over 20 years ago.

The suit was filed by the mother of a boy who damaged his eyesight by looking at the sun during an eclipse.  This happened while the boy was participating in an after-school program that he was not signed up for!! Apparently he and three buddies saw their teacher and some kids getting ready to observe the eclipse during the after-school program, and they joined in. There was much dispute over whether the after-school teacher gave these kids permission to do this or not.  In any event, the boy did participate, did look right at sun, and did have visual damage.

The kid was a 4th grader, which strikes me as “old enough to know better.” That seems to be how the jury saw it as well. They ruled in favor of the school board on this one.  But the mom claimed it was the school’s fault, and when she lost at the trial court, she took it up on appeal.  And she won.

The appellate court ruled that the judge had given the jury erroneous instructions about one of the fine points of state law in Florida.  The court held that Florida law made the district responsible for any student who happened to be on school property, whether they were students in the program or not. The judge had not made that clear in his instructions to the jury. So the verdict was reversed.

It’s an obscure case, but just further evidence that what happens in the Real World will find its way into the school….and into the courthouse. The case is Versprill v. School Board of Orange County, 641 So.2d 883 (Fla. App. 5 Dist. 1994).


Tomorrow: Toolbox Tuesday!